Over the past couple days you’ve likely read a couple posts by me complaining about some terrible advice that is being handed out by the blogs and forums around the interwebs. I’m not going to say I’ve never given out terrible advice either – hell I’m (in a short while) going to explain to you […]
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iPhone Backups: Why Apple is forcing me to Jailbreak – and why you should too

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Over the past couple days you’ve likely read a couple posts by me complaining about some terrible advice that is being handed out by the blogs and forums around the interwebs. I’m not going to say I’ve never given out terrible advice either – hell I’m (in a short while) going to explain to you why I plan on jailbreaking my iPhone and (possibly) voiding my warranty – but in those posts I really gave no other alternatives than to call Apple. Today I want to tell you why I’m jailbreaking – and why it just might be a good idea for you to do so as well.

Quick show of hands – how many people have 3rd party applications installed, which in one way shape or form have data in them? I’m guessing from the breeze I just felt – pretty much everyone. Think about it for second – applications like Moleskinery+, 1Password, eWallet, Shazam, FuelGauge, and countless other applications all store your data. I’ve got data in all of them. But there’s a problem … when my iPhone takes a dump and I have to restore it my only option is to rely on what has already proven itself to be a flawed system – namely iTunes.

If you’re here reading this you’ve most likely already had a restore issue, or you’ve already seen reports of it. Along with the failed restore issue, there’s other problems with restoring – things like what if I don’t want to restore everything on my device, only the data from a single application? For example – I just deleted a note in Moleskinery+. What if I want that back? Should I have to restore everything back to how it was last night (and possibly lose other data) just to get back a single note?

It’s almost like Apple completely forgot about how backup and restore works in the real world. I’ve RARELY restored an entire server, it’s almost always one or two files from a directory. Backup and Restore on the iPhone is inherently flawed and Apple needs to fix it. But given the fact that Apple seems to want to try and forget everything it knows about basic system administration – read on past the break to see what you can do to keep from becoming just another lost data statistic.

Before we go any further – I am not saying this is a good option for you. I am not telling you this is a good idea for you, and I’m not warranting anything. I’m explaining why this is a good process for me – and why I’m planning this. I cannot fix your device if it breaks, I cannot convince Apple/AT&T that that they should cover your warranty if they determine your jailbroke your iPhone and that screwed it up. In other words – take responsibility for your own actions.

Alright now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at some tools you can use to keep yourself from getting iScrewed by iTunes.

Right out of the box, you’re going to need to jailbreak. Don’t care how you do it – could be WinPWN, could be QuickPWN or could be good old pwnage. Don’t care. Next make sure you have Cydia installed as well as OpenSSH.

Here’s where you start to have some options on how you can make sure you’re safe from iTunes disaster.

If you own a Mac – and you’re looking for say an image you accidentally deleted or maybe your notes db file head on over to Erica Sadun’s site and grab a handy little utility called ‘mdhelper‘. ‘mdhelper’ is a utility that can go through your device backups (Mac Only) and pull out data. For some assistance using ‘mdhelper’ click on through this link to the hackint0sh forums.
Long story short its a command line too which you could use to extact the data from your iTunes backup and then ssh the stuff you need back onto your iPhone. Thanks Erica (yet again) for a great tool!

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So, what if you don’t own a Mac – or you just want something a little easier? Got you covered there as well. Load up Cydia and look for an application called AppBackup from Scott Wallace.

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AppBackup is fairly self explanatory. Install the application, run it and click the applications you wish to backup. You can either backup all at once or you can do it one at a time. Since most of my applications really don’t hold a lot of “gotta have” information I’m sticking with the one at a time option. So, for example – let’s say I’ve got the following data in FuelGauge.

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First thing you would do is backup the data with AppBackup:

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Then go to the backup directory and for future safe keeping offload the files to your desktop/laptop. You do this with any number of utilities – on my system I’ll just connect via Cyberduck and copy the AppBackup directory off.

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Now when your iPhone takes a poop and you end up restoring it from iTunes – and selecting restore as new iPhone because nothing seems to work ever again if you restore from a backup – all you need to do is copy the AppBackup files onto your iPhone again and restore – quickly going from an empty app – to having your data back!

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Finally, I’m sure there are some other options out there, these are just what I found recently – if you know of any (harder or easier) please let us know. I’m definitely willing to look at other ways of making sure that when things go south, people are not going to lose their important data! (Like I did last week!).

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